by Bill Corrigan
3:58 – A Cambodian train derails and crashes into a ravine, killing at least 200 people and wounding 400 more.
4:07 – Bill clicks the picture with the smiling baby, looks over the article, and saves it to his jump drive.
4:12 – Bill pries open a Coke he got from the soda machine. He smiles. A woman is found dead four blocks from her dorm room in Indiana. They think it’s a serial killer, the ninth. She’s white and attractive.
4:15 – Bill saves the Jessica Alba story instead. It’s about her new movie. The Indiana murder is buried under ‘National’ news, somewhere.
4:52 – The sun begins to set. Bill watches silently, as he does every evening.
4:55 – A couple and their four children are discovered dead after their house burns to the ground. Police don’t know how the fire started yet.
4:57 – Flooding in Kentucky has now claimed twelve lives. The forecast calls for at least another six days of rain.
5:01 – Bill makes the changes to the site. He doesn’t know anyone in Kentucky.
5:12 – He sneaks in a quick game of Minesweeper before packing his messenger bag. He wins.
5:15 – Bill exits the building. The sidewalks are already crowded. He stops and looks up, breathing deeply. He loves New York in the fall.
5:16 – A crunch of glass and metal startles him. Bill looks down in time to see a young boy flung through a windshield. He watches him skip along the pavement. Everyone reaches for a cell phone. Bill goes numb. An obese businesswoman in running shoes runs to the boy.
5:17 – The driver stumbles out of her car. A few people rush to help her. She’s bleeding badly from her nose. Her left arm dangles at her side.
5:19 – The obese woman is bawling. Bill can’t watch anymore. He leaves for the subway. The moment replays itself continuously in his mind, against his will.
5:26 – To distract himself he watches people and browses through the papers in his bag. Two ambulances scream by.
5:27 – He wants to smile at a little girl on the subway who can’t seem to keep still in her seat, but her mother frowns at her, so he frowns too.
6:54 – Spongebob Squarepants is on TV. He pauses to watch it. He can only think of the wreck. He switches to MSNBC. They show video of the train wreck in Cambodia.
6:58 – The news anchor smiles. Bill wonders how he can smile after that.
7:14 – Dinner consists of a plain cheese sandwich.
7:45 – Bill stays in from his daily jog. He watches news instead, for hours.
10:03 – The wreck Bill witnessed is mentioned, briefly, on the local news. The boy has died. He remembers him there on the street, and the obese woman in sneakers.
10:07 – A school shooting is reported in Florida, and a 60-car pile up in California leaves at least nine dead.
10:34 – The death count has reached 274 in Cambodia. Bill wants to be as upset about the train and the shooting and the pile-up as he is the little boy. He feels guilty for not being upset. This makes him more upset.
12:38 – Bill tries to sleep. He can’t. Whenever he closes his eyes he sees the boy and the trail of glass behind him. He doesn’t see hundreds of people crushed to death in trains.
3:02 – Bill gives up trying to sleep and munches on Captain Crunch straight from the box. Each crunch reminds him of the wreck. He stops eating Captain Crunch.
5:13 – Bill flips the news on while brushing his teeth. A private plane carrying a professional golfer has crashed in South Dakota. Bill wonders if he would care more had it been a baseball player. This upsets him.
6:02 – The passengers on the subway seem unhappy. Bill has never noticed them before.
9:03 – Bill pries open a Coke and it sprays some of it on his papers. Before growing angry, he remembers the boy. He realizes the stained papers aren’t a big deal. He feels guilty for using a dead boy to feel better about himself.
9:07 – A suicide bomber detonates himself in a nightclub in Bali, killing at least 24 people and wounding 115 more.
9:15 – Bill selects the picture with the albino zebra, looks over the article, and saves it to his jump drive. The Cambodia story is buried in ‘World’ news, somewhere. The other stories from Thursday are forgotten, too. The little boy is nowhere to be found.